Hit and miss for Hayden, hit and hit again for Symonds

<b>Australians 321-4 Leicestershire 226-8 (Australia win by 95 runs)</b>
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The Independent Online

The news from the front line here at Grace Road is that Australia's batsmen are fallible. Faced by a swinging ball on another grey day in flaming June, they played and missed; charging down the wicket. They give straightforward stumping chances, and they take some terrible risks.

The news from the front line here at Grace Road is that Australia's batsmen are fallible. Faced by a swinging ball on another grey day in flaming June, they played and missed; charging down the wicket. They give straightforward stumping chances, and they take some terrible risks.

But the rest of the story is that they have the confidence to play their luck and when they want to increase the scoring rate, they do so by the simple expedient of hitting fours and sixes. Andrew Symonds and Damien Martyn plundered 72 runs off the last five overs to lift Australia to 321 for 4 in their 50 overs.

Symonds' aggression was awesome, even more so than Matthew Hayden's earlier in the innings, but a second-rate bowling line-up was demoralised by the time he went on to the attack. As a guide to the summer's one-day internationals, the fallibility was perhaps no less significant than the authority.

Grace Road was as close to being en fête as it gets yesterday. Spectators populated benches that are normally nearly empty. A stall offered tastings of Jacobs Creek sparkling rosé (it hadn't travelled especially well). The elderly quartet in the jazz band wore straw hats and fancy waistcoats, and the barbecue sold a steady stream of hamburgers and hot dogs. There was a President's Tent and a Corporate Sponsors Tent. Children played in the outfield during lunch.

It was a splendid advertisement for the county game, and this tour will do a good turn to English cricket's finances. Leicestershire even put out a decent team, which is not usually the case when touring teams visit here, although the side did include two overseas signings, two Kolpak players and a West Indian legitimised by the EU.

Hayden's innings was strictly hit and miss. Though there were more hits than misses, it was an interesting exercise because he had a bad run early in the Australian summer and was dropped for a couple of one-day internationals. His hundred yesterday was full powerfully hit conventional shots, like his high drive to long-on for his first six, and unorthodox clubbed shots to the leg side. But he showed finesse too, deliberately edging the ball past non-existent slips in wide-open spaces to score three twos in an over.

A straight drive was driven so hard that Claude Henderson, the bowler, must have been relieved that he never got a hand to it. Lofted drives landed dangerously close to the cover fielder but not close enough. In the nineties, he hit a huge six over the barbecue and his hundred came up with another attempted six which flew between the flailing arms of John Sadler and fell just inside the boundary.

His 107 out of 166 would have reassured him, his skipper and the coach, but they would have been conscious of the flaws. In the second over, he walked down the wicket to drive and missed. In the next, there was a good shout for lbw. His fifty came up off a thin edge that beat the stumps and the keeper Paul Nixon .

His dismissal perfectly exhibited Hayden's virtues and vices. He hit the ball to square so hard that it reached the boundary without rising above head height. The problem was that Dinesh Mongia was standing on the boundary and caught the ball cleanly just above his shoulder.

The carbon fibre strip on Ricky Ponting's bat was not much use since he slogged a cross-batted shot to midwicket. Martyn looked like an accomplished one-day batsman, reaching 85 in an unspectacular way off 103 balls. Symonds, squashing his wild brown dreadlocks under his helmet, scored 92 off only 59 balls. He needed 20 off the last over to reach a hundred and managed merely 11.

Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie all looked fearsome. The 20-year-old Tom New and veteran Darren Maddy defended bravely, but McGrath got the kid and Gillespie the old hand after both had defended stubbornly. Lee bowled fast and economically, costing only six runs off five overs.

But the middle order fell to spin. Hylton Ackerman (39) played a captain's innings, hitting five fours before falling lbw to Michael Clarke. Brad Hogg got the next three, caught in the covers (Mongia, 21), caught behind (Sadler, 5) and bowled (Snape, 14). The crowd cannot have been surprised but a number felt they had already had their fun, and after five wickets had fallen the empty seats rose sharply.

Still, the management were not complaining. There had been close to 4,000. Not a memorable match, but a memorable day none the less.

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